Post Reply Mononoke
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Posted 4/2/15 , edited 4/3/15
by Onymous

When defending animation as an art form, one must provide examples which are undeniably art, works which evoke a powerful emotional response. Keeping that in mind, Mononoke might just be the ideal example for this sort of debate. I’m going to talk a lot about the visuals, but you can just look at some of the screens to see how awe inspiring the art is. If that isn't enough, Mononoke also employs a huge amount of traditional and nontraditional visual direction and writing methods.



Mononoke’s plot is broken up into multiple, separate story arcs with the enigmatic medicine vendor as a their common element. Acting as a protagonist for the series, the medicine seller hunts mononoke, which occupy a grey area between vengeful ghosts and demons. Despite his status as a merchant, he carries a legendary demon slaying sword than can only be drawn once the true nature of a mononoke is revealed.

Each arc functions as a stand alone story and they don’t seem to have any linear chronology to events and each event involves some manner of occult mystery which have themes heavily reminiscent of folk tales or ghost stories. This is probably why the series feels so sinister, as any of these stories by themselves could play out like the plot of a Hollywood horror movie were it not for the medicine vendor’s intervention.



I typically hesitate to describe anything as avant garde as a means of complimenting any work, but Mononoke definitely fits the bill. Generally the series uses an artistic style similar to that of Japanese wood cuts with static background patterns and textures reminiscent of the visuals from Gankutsuou while the story structure and dialogue play out like Japanese theater.

Generally is uncertain word when describing Mononoke since, despite its style having a very compelling structure, Mononoke is not afraid to frequently depart from its established sense of normal in wild and surreal directions. Each arc uses unique color palettes, visual techniques, and scene transitions. Mononoke also employs an extremely nonlinear style of storytelling which, along with its other visual tools, make it difficult to distinguish fantasy from reality.



If it’s beginning to sound like Mononoke might be for more of a niche audience, then rest assured the series has a lot of mass appeal. The mythological elements and bizarre demonic manifestations could allow Mononoke to be described as a more mature Inu Yasha while the horror and dreamlike atmosphere are great for fans of occult mystery and horror like Paranoia Agent or Hell Girl.

It’s hard to describe the experience that is watching Mononoke. The series has an eerie feeling during each story arc that slowly builds to a peak as the mononoke’s true nature, as well as the tragic past which caused it to manifest, are slowly revealed. The visuals match the tone and grow more bizarre and magnificent as the characters lose their grasp on reality. Paprika comes to mind when describing this pattern of storytelling. An enlightened irrationality in which you are not sure that any amount of analysis will allow any of the events to make any sense but they all fit together so well thematically that you can't help but feel a sense of fulfillment watching it unfold.



No matter your tastes, Mononoke is excellent purely based on the spectacle the series offers. From there, the winding tales and strange vistas will almost certainly draw in any viewer. Approaching eight years after its release, many of the techniques used by Mononoke are rarely used in television and cinema. It’s creation required equal parts creativity and daring which are necessities to making truly memorable works that last the test of time. Mononoke an absolute must watch for any fans of anime as medium and, for everyone else, well worth checking out.
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Posted 4/2/15 , edited 4/3/15
I'm going to cry, MONONOKE is being recognized for what it truely is!!!!! I have been trying my damned hardest to promote this anime, and have only had one successful conversion to the cult that is the MONONOKE fandom.

MONONOKE is truely a beautiful anime, so colorful yet darkly natured. Each story is well thought out, despite the shortness. It keeps you guessing right up to the climax of each arc. The Medicine Seller is such a mystery and an oddity, yet you can't help but come to like him.

Also, it's actually a spin-off of another anime; Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales!

I wish so many more people knew about this anime, the suspence and mystery and wonderfully written stories, it truely is a hidden gem!
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Posted 4/2/15
Oh my gosh. Thank you! I saw this series years ago and I completely forgot what it was called. Also, Gankutsuo looked like a Klimt painting but the movement was quite well integrated--not so much here. It feels more like a Japanese art slide show in a theater than a video sometimes. Definitely very interesting to look at and I really appreciate it when directors try to expand the medium instead of playing it safe.

Also, the medicine seller is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai. I am sure he has some fans around here.
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Posted 4/3/15
I always suck at putting what's in my mind into words, but you've basically said everything I ever could to praise this beautiful piece of art. I don't even remember how I found out about it, but I watched it a few years back and absolutely fell in love with the gorgeous art. I really need to rewatch it sometime. I feel the same way about Gankutsuo as well. I just love anime with strange/unusual art in general. I still need to see The Tatami Galaxy as well, while it's not exactly the same kind of art style it still looks pretty unique.
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Posted 4/3/15
I have to say - hear, hear! I love the whole look of the series and how the background art in the series is also wonderfully done to give subtle hints at times. Have to also say guilty of trying to cosplay kisuriuri
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Posted 4/27/15
Ah, I LOVE Mononoke! It is art, no matter what people my say about animation!
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